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What the Critics Say: ‘Summer and Smoke’

12 June 2018 by Emily Moulder
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Transferring from the Almeida to the Duke of York’s theatre this year, “Summer and Smoke” is a rarely performed Tennessee Williams play that has wowed London critics and fans alike. You can book tickets now for performances starting in November!

The play follows Alma’s sexual awakening as she encounters a handsome doctor, John, at the turn of the century in their small town in Georgia. Caught been resistance and release, Alma struggles to let herself go and give in to her heart’s desires.

This five-star production encapsulates the classically steamy nature of a Tennessee Williams play, and has critics going wild – check out what the reviewers said about “Summer and Smoke”.

Photo Credit: “Summer and Smoke” – Marc Brenner for the Almeida.

Patsy Ferran – one to watch!

Leading lady Patsy Ferran has caught the eye of the London critics with her delicate performance of Alma’s burgeoning passion.

‘It is Ferran who is the absolute centre of this production. She is first seen at a microphone stand expressing her youthful preoccupation with the wayward John. What makes her so magnetic is that she balances Alma’s spirituality, with her talk of gothic cathedrals reaching up to the skies, with a visible hunger for love.’ – The Guardian

Ferran’s waif-life figure suggests a vital life-force trapped within turn-of-the-century primness. Her restless hand-movements combine a comic eagerness to please with the agony of the unsatiated; her darting eyes miss nothing, pleadingly communicate too, while her eyebrows have their own personality.’ – The Telegraph

Photo Credit: “Summer and Smoke” – Marc Brenner for the Almeida.

Director Rebecca Frecknall breathes life into this early Williams piece.

Critics have praised director Rebecca Frecknall for her impressionistic approach to “Summer and Smoke” and designer Tom Scutt’s beautiful, stripped back staging.

‘Rebecca Frecknall directs a revelatory production of it here, infusing it with music (nine upright pianos are the stage’s backdrop) and dropping with stuffy naturalistic sets and lights-down scene changes. Instead she favours fluidity, where scenes bleed into each other while several of the cast double on roles.’ – WhatsOnStage

‘The staging concept Frecknall and designer Tom Scutt have hit upon is both brilliant and simple. A crescent of nine bar-room pianos is arranged by the bare Almeida wall. Sometimes they’re played by the cast melodiously, other times in a frenzied symphony; often there’s just a solitary player, or none. Beyond that, there is no set apart from a couple of mic stands. ‘Summer and Smoke’ is not explicitly one of Williams’s memory plays, but Frecknall’s superlative impressionistic staging gives it the air of some incandescent fever dream.’ – TimeOut

Don’t miss out – book your tickets to “Summer and Smoke”.

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